Korean Language Blog

Kim Il Sung’s Birthday Posted by on Apr 15, 2011 in Culture

April is the month of Kim Il Sung’s birthday. Kim Il Sung (김일성) is the father of Kim Jong Il (김정일). Kim Il Sung was the man responsible for creating North Korean policies that would continue in his son, Kim Jong Il’s reign. Kim Il Sung is dead now, but despite all the years that have passed since his death, he is still remembered and worshipped by the North Korean people. The drawing on the left is an idealized portrait of Kim Il Sung that can be found all over North Korea.

Images, icons, drawings, you name it, it’s all embedded in the very culture of the North Koreans. One of the more famous examples of Kim Il Sung’s legacy is the Kim Il Sung Stadium (김일성경기장). It’s been said that this was where Kim Il Sung made his first speech to the North Korean people. The Stadium is still in use for mass games and other important gatherings. There are of course better and more impressive stadiums in North Korea, but the Kim Il Sung Stadium has a symbolic importance.

If you have a stadium named after you, the next best thing is to name the town square after yourself. What you know, there’s the Kim Il Sung Square (김일성광장), and it’s located in the capital city of Pyongyang (평양). It’s the main gathering place where the North Korean government hosts Communist rallies, military parades and other spectacles. Portraits of Kim Il Sung are posted all around the Square, among other prominent Communist leaders like Lenin.

Like many leaders who want to lend their names to a university, Kim Il Sung has a university named Kim Il Sung University (김일성종합대학). In order to be accepted to this educational institution, the student has to have good grades and a recommendation from someone in the Worker’s Party of North Korea. In other words, the student has to prove that he or she was a good Communist and that their parents were good Communists as well.

This next example of Kim Ill Sung’s presence is pretty over the top, but then I guess that’s how pervasive Kim Il Sung is in North Korea. There’s a flower called Kim Il Sungia (김일성화) which was named after Kim Il Sung. On special anniversaries, like his birthday and his death, these flowers can be seen all over North Korea. The flowers are often placed near statutes or monuments of Kim Il Sung. Every year the North Koreans take trips to various Kim Ill Sung monuments to pay tribute to the dead leader.


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